Microsoft updates Marketplace anti-piracy technology

The software giant also launched a Web page for PC users to browse the store

Microsoft introduced some updates to its Windows Mobile Marketplace, including a new online store accessible from computers and improvements to anti-piracy technology, but there is confusion about how the improvements work.

The anti-piracy updates respond to developer concerns about the potential for customers to share their applications with others. The same day the Marketplace launched in early October, a developer reported that he quickly found a simple way to circumvent the basic security mechanism that Microsoft implemented so he could share applications with anyone.

On Wednesday, Microsoft said it had introduced more advanced anti-piracy protection that uses license keys. Developers can choose to use the advanced mechanism or the simpler, original anti-piracy technology. “The vast majority of Windows Marketplace users do not have an interest in illegally sharing applications,” Microsoft wrote in a white paper about the new anti-piracy technology.

Some initial discussion on the Windows Marketplace forum indicates that some developers are struggling to figure out how to use the new security procedures.

The potential for piracy is one of a few issues that developers for the Marketplace have complained about since the store launched more than a month ago. That puts Windows Mobile developers in the same position as developers for other mobile platforms like the iPhone and Android who also have many complaints about the way those stores operate. The popularity of such stores is relatively new, and all the companies behind them are working out how best to run them.

In addition to the new anti-piracy measures, Microsoft also opened a Marketplace that anyone can browse from a computer. “While we’ve heard great feedback on the Marketplace experience on Windows phones, sometimes people just want the benefits of shopping on a PC,” wrote Todd Brix, senior director of mobile services and developer project management at Microsoft, in the blog post about the updates.

Windows phone users can buy applications from the store. When they do, the application will be sent directly to the phone so users don’t have to connect their phones to their computers to transfer the application to the device.

The store has gained a bit more than 100 new applications since it launched; it now has 368 available applications, according to the new site. Microsoft boasts that there are 18,000 applications available for Windows Mobile users, but developers of those programs don’t appear overly eager to add them to the Marketplace.

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